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Alarm bells in Labour as more than 23,000 members quit the party in the past two months after controversies over Gaza and green policies – with insiders ‘taken aback’ by fall

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Labour has suffered an exodus of more than 23,000 members in the last two months. 

People have turned their back on the party as insiders say Muslims and other supporters have been left angered by Sir Keir Starmer‘s stance on Gaza and ditching his flagship £28 billion eco pledge. 

Figures released by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) last week show membership has plummeted to 366,604 at the latest count.

That number was at 390,000 in January with the membership reaching a peak of 532,000 at the end of 2019 when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

Radical left wing group Momentum warned Sir Keir ‘is alienating swathes of Labour’s core support’ and that alarm bells should be ringing within the party. 

Labour has suffered an exodus of more than 23,000 members in the last two months (Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer in Dudley as he launched the party's campaign for the local elections)

Labour has suffered an exodus of more than 23,000 members in the last two months (Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer in Dudley as he launched the party’s campaign for the local elections)

People have turned their back on the party as insiders say Muslims and other supporters have been left angered by Sir Keir's stance on Gaza and ditching his flagship £28 billion eco pledge

People have turned their back on the party as insiders say Muslims and other supporters have been left angered by Sir Keir’s stance on Gaza and ditching his flagship £28 billion eco pledge

One senior Labour figure told The Observer: ‘It is a big fall in just two months. People were surprised, even taken aback.’ 

Momentum said: ‘These figures highlight the danger of Labour’s leadership taking its base for granted. 

‘From a failure to oppose Israel’s brutal war on Gaza to morale-damaging U-turns and the mistreatment of Diane Abbott, Keir Starmer is alienating swathes of Labour’s core support. 

‘Members are the lifeblood of Labour – their departure en masse should set alarm bells ringing.’

Labour insiders believe Sir Keir’s continually refusing to call for a ceasefire in Gaza had caused anger among the Muslim community. 

The party leader faced a revolt within his own party when a raft of Labour councillors quit in protest over his pro-Israeli stance. 

The mass walkout of at least 70 councillors caused Labour to lose control of councils in Oxford, Hastings, Norwich, and Burnley. 

The Labour leader suffered a front bench resignation and open defiance from other shadow ministers and backbench MPs over his stance. 

Speaking in November, he said: ‘I have set out my position in relation to a ceasefire.

‘There was obviously an awful terrorist attack on the 7th of October by Hamas, which nobody would support or could support.

‘With the killing of men and women, children, babies, and the taking of 200 hostages who are still being held in tunnels in Gaza.

‘So, to say to Israel – while its citizens are still being held – “you should have a ceasefire” in my view is inconsistent with saying it’s their right to try and get their hostages back.

‘We wouldn’t take kindly to somebody saying “I am afraid we don’t think you should be doing that”.’

That month, 56 Labour MPs defied Sir Keir to vote for the SNP’s previous call for a ceasefire, with 10 frontbenchers quitting. 

Jess Phillips was one of the most high profile shadow ministers to sensationally quit.

In her resignation letter she wrote: ‘I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.

Sir Keir devoted a section of his speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh in February to the Gaza crisis

Sir Keir devoted a section of his speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh in February to the Gaza crisis 

‘On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

‘I can see no route where the current military action does anything but put at risk the hope of peace and security for anyone in the region now and in the future.’

But last month Sir Keir performed a U-turn to declare the ‘fighting most stop now’ and called for an ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ in Gaza. 

His ditching of the £28 billion eco pledge is also said to have infuriated green supporters.  

The U-turn, which Labour had denied for weeks, launched a massive volley of criticism from green campaigners and senior Labour figures.

Greenpeace UK’s co-executive director, Areeba Hamid, said Sir Keir had ‘caved like a house of cards in the wind’.

‘Labour’s diluted prosperity plan has gone from £28bn a year extra in vital green investment to less than £5bn. Yet climate action, including borrowing to invest in warmer homes, remains hugely popular among voters,’ she said.



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